Mercy Ships Ends Three-Month Stay in Liberia

The National Planning Committee of a global charity operating a growing fleet of hospital ships hosted an official farewell dinner recently at Monrovia’s City Hall to mark the end of a three-month stay in Liberia to help re-build the nation after 14 years of civil war.

Executive Director Daslin Small and Captain Jurryan Schutte led Texas-based Mercy Ships crewmembers to the official farewell dinner while the Rev. Jerry Kulah acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Guests heard from National Planning Committee Members, including Dr. Peter S. Coleman, Minister of Health, and Mr. Benjamin Lartey, General Secretary of the Liberian Council of Churches.

Throughout the program, speakers thanked God and Mercy Ships for the work that had been done during the three-month field assignment of its 522-foot flagship, the Anastasis.

For the past three months, Mercy Ships has been conducting development projects and educational programs to help re-build Liberia during its first visit to the war-torn West African nation. Since 1989, the Liberian civil war has claimed the lives of over 150,000 Liberians and further displaced approximately 850,000 others into refugee camps. The fighting has also left Liberia’s economy in tatters and very little medical infrastructure remains.

“Access to medical care in Liberia is minimal,” noted Mercy Ships HealthCare Services Director Dr. Glenn Strauss upon the ministry’s arrival in March. “The population of three million has very little access to just basic medical care, let alone advanced surgical procedure to repair facial tumors, to repair blindness, to correct children's cleft lip and palates, and women's [vesico-vaginal fistula] surgical repairs."

"These are specialties Mercy Ships has to offer to the patients of Liberia,” Strauss added.

During the recent farewell event, Dr. Coleman told Mercy Ships crew members that they had “restored life back to these people.”

“We want to give God the glory for what you have done,” the minister of health added.

Coleman also noted that “the activities of Mercy Ships here have shown it to be possible for the church, the government and civil society to work together to bring good things to the people of Liberia.”

Gifts of appreciation were given to individuals as well as to the crew in general. Those making ‘thank you’ speeches all spoke of their gratitude to Mercy Ships for plans to return to Liberia later this year. Although the global charity reported earlier that it would continue bringing "hope and healing" to Liberia in a second phase beginning in October 2005, later reports stated that the ministry would return in November.

As the leader in using a growing fleet of hospital ships to deliver free world-class healthcare services to the poor in developing nations, Mercy Ships has visited more than 500 ports in over 50 developing nations. With three hospital ships and offices in 17 countries, the global charity has performed more than 2 million services, with a value of $250 million (USD), which include treating more than 300,000 people in village clinics, performing 18,000 surgeries, 110,000 dental treatments and completing close to 350 construction and agriculture projects, including schools, clinics, orphanages and water wells.